Thursday, 3 September 2015

fife and snare

Europeans first encountered war drum and subsequently adopted the martial accompaniment during the Crusades in the Holy Land, where such batteries of percussion spooked their horses.
Catching up on the fascinating and shameful narrative of the Albigensian Crusade prosecuted in Languedoc (Toulouse) by the Catholic Church against the heretical Cathars that led to the Spanish Inquisition, I learned that one of the earliest well-documented occurrences of a soundtrack, an anthem for battle although probably not creating the same atmosphere as stirring and thunderous leitmotif of some modern war movie nor the ceremonial and regimented noise of a parade, was during this succession of sieges throughout the region. As rear detachment, away from the fighting, monks and priests as well as other roadies that crusading attracted, the choir would belt out rousing choruses of one particular hymn, whose popularity and recognition was already established in France, of Veni Sancte Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit)—penned, according to tradition, by Pope Innocent III who launched the whole campaign as well. In a bellicose setting, all chanting and rumbling can take on intimidating aspects, but this singing seems really creepy to me.